Tuesday, August 31, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

August 31, 2010

A former top CEO of a state corporation meets me on the streets of Nairobi and asks if I have a minute of my time.

In the two minutes of our discussion, he makes me understand that there is a serious problem in Kenya.

He is convinced that the whole Katiba affair was a hoax from the moment power barons showed disinterest in it.

He thinks Raila Odinga and those so called reformers that truly believed in the cause were made to believe a big lie.

Mind you my friend is a Kalenjin from Rift Valley and he has no qualms letting me know how he voted. He voted No to the constitution but once the majority said Yes to it, he accepted the outcome and actually supported its promulgation and implementation.

After he left, I kept wondering what that conversation was all about. Did the man have a point especially when he intimated that the first politician to be derailed was Ruto who realized much later after his rifts with Raila and other ODM members had gone too far?

I want to believe that the whole constitution process was not a hoax. There could be no way President Kibaki could give his last energies to a document he didn’t believe in. The President had no reason to lie to Kenyans and the whole world before a mammoth crowd beamed across the globe if he didn’t believe in our constitution.

Before I jump into the band wagon of those rights activists already crucifying Bashir, Kibaki, Wetangula and all, I would like to delve into President Kibaki’s mind wherever he is in Swaziland and decipher what is going on in his mind right now.

If it is true; as it is slowly coming out that President Kibaki was personally involved in Bashir’s invitation, what was in it for Kenya and Kibaki as a person? Did he invite Bashir as a rogue neighbor that needed to be brought closer rather than shunned? If he weighed between triggering a backlash against Kenya as it has surely done; and containing a possible conflict between South and North Sudan , did he choose containment rather than a temporary uproar over Bashir’s presence in Nairobi?

It is now emerging that Bashir’s invitation was kept under wraps so much that members of the ODM cabinet were kept in the dark except for Najib Balala who was roped in at the last minute to play chaperon. Being in a coalition government that has worked so smoothly in recent months, was it wise to keep the Prime Minister in the dark? Whose idea was it and how would it benefit him to keep the Prime Minister in the dark?

If it is true that prior to Bashir’s arrival, the cabinet Secretary, Internal Security Permanent Secretary, Foreign Affairs Minister and his Permanent Secretary together with the Chief of Staff and Police Commissioner knew, how could such a sensitive state matter be kept away from the Prime Minister by the President?

Omar El Bashir did not just come to the promulgation at Uhuru Park and left. He stayed on like a normal head of state and rumor has it; had a one-on-one private meeting with our President at which crucial issues affecting Sudan’s stability were discussed. He may have not appeared at the State House luncheon but now it is emerging that the meeting in Nairobi seems to have had a positive effect on the warring parties in Sudan over the South’s impending referendum.

Bashir is one of the much maligned African leaders. It is also true that he has two warrants of arrest on his head. He is wanted at the ICC in The Hague for crimes against humanity and genocide. These crimes were allegedly committed under his watch in Darfur where close to 300,000 people are said to have lost their lives.

Despite these accusations, Bashir was recently elected in Sudan by a landslide vote; never mind that the election process was faulty, culminating in some presidential candidates pulling out of the race.

Yes, the ICC is looking for Bashir but it would be foolhardy to allow the whole of Sudan to be once again consumed in military bombs just because we are afraid to coax Bashir into allowing the South’s referendum to proceed as per the CPA Accord.

Inviting Bashir to Nairobi was downright reckless no doubt. It was not even intelligent unless some renegade political operative saw an opportunity to reap political mileage out of it. If it was merely to persuade Bashir to soften his stand on the South’s referendum, a secret meeting could have been arranged even inside Sudan with President Kibaki. Better still, Bashir could have been secretly flown into Nairobi on another day rather than the day Kenya was supposed to be at its best for the world to see.

Unfortunately, politicians that thrive on negative politics have seized the moment to put spanners in to the works apparently to score points that are not worth the press conferences they have held. Sadly as usual, the media has swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker!

Well, this is Kenya’s politics at its best.